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Treble cheer for Jonjo at Catterick cheers leaden grey skies of January

12-January-2024 13:53
in General
by Peter McNeile

Days when you ride or train a treble are few and far between, sometimes never, among racing folk, so small wonder Jonjo O'Neill and Ritchie McLernon were all smiles after Catterick yesterday, when the pair scored in consecutive races in a busy 80 minutes. 

As a rider, Jonjo was a frequent visitor here, not least as he was a northern-based rider. And before he moved to Jackdaws Castle, his base near Carlisle ensured Catterick's winter programme was on the radar. A 200 mile distance between the J P McManus - owned training centre north-east of Cheltenham and Catterick has proved something of a disincentive since the move.

However, the paucity of meetings due to wet and cold weather abandonments forces Plan B or even C to be put into effect, and in this instance, filling a box worked wonders.

Track And Trace, winner of the North Yorkshire Grand National, may be someway short of the class required to win the Aintree equivalent, but he scrubbed up well enough here despite a few jumping errors to provide the centrepiece to a memorable afternoon. There are other similar long distance chases equally applicable to him.

French-bred Hasthing has done little wrong in his short career, and continued the upward progression since leaving France unbeaten in February of last year when winning fir a second time on the bounce in the EBF Novices Hurdle qualifier. It looks like he needs all of the 2m 4f of races like this, but he should win again for owner J P McManus.

Time for a Pint set the O'Neill treble rolling in the novices handicap chase for the easiest of the threesome.

Jonjo's 44 winners to date this season take home well over the £1/2m prize money barrier without a welter of Saturday winners. In fact his highest-rated winner to date is Monbeg Genius at just 152. As is stands, this is the only inmate of the yard with a handicap rating in excess of 150, limiting opportunities to compete at the highest level. The yard does remarkably well in the circumstances.

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4m SE Cheltenham, nr junction of A40 and A436 (Exit 11A, M5)


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